This fic is a response to a challenge by IcySapphire to write a KakaIru about repression. So, here goes!

The Curse(if anyone can help me think of a better title, you'll get a pat on the head and an invisible imaginary Kakashi plushie. I suck at titles.)

Prologue:

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"I hate couples!" Hatake Kakashi, jounin ninja of the Hidden Village of Konoha proclaimed as he flopped down on the grass on the training field. A second later, his friend and eternal rival Maito Gai sprawled out beside him. Both had been entangled in a fierce competition of horseshoe tossing before they had been interrupted.

"Look at them!" Kakashi ranted on, pointing at Kurenai and Asuma. The pair was ambling along, hand in hand, looking dreamily into each others' eyes. "It's sickening."

"They are in the Springtime of their Youth, oh Hip and Modern Rival." Gai replied, wanting to end the rambling and get back to the tossing of equine accessories (if the Beautiful Blue Beast won this round, he would pull ahead in the win/loss count!)

"It's not just them, though. Earlier this morning it was Genma and Raido." Kakashi pointed out. While the two bachelor jounin had been setting up for horseshoes, they had seen the two lovers in the middle of a spat. Genma had run past first, dressed only in a pair of boxer shorts, followed by a wet and angry Raido-in-a-towel, who was shouting something about not flushing the toilette while the shower was in use.

"Those two have always been trouble, even before they were together. Their boundless energy should be Inspiration, not Exasperation, Kakashi." Gai said sagely.

"And what about that fiasco with Jiraiya, Tsunade, and the whipped cream last week?" Kakashi asked.Gai didn't reply to that one, not even wanting to recall the experience.

"Everywhere we go, Gai, there are couples, holding hands, making eyes at each other, kissing, fighting, making up! I'm sick of it!" Kakashi shouted.

Gai narrowed his round eyes in concentration. It wasn't like his rival at all to complain so much and to be so distraught over sappy romance (wasn't that what he read those novels for? Certainly his esteemed rival was too noble to read them purely for the sex…). "What's really the problem, Kakashi?" He asked, schooling his handsome, sparklingly heroic face into a no-nonsense stare, to show the Copy nin he wasn't fooled by the pretence.

"I told you." Kakashi huffed. Gai continued with the stare.

"Fine." Kakashi said finally, after a full three minutes of Gai's look. "It just seems like everyone has someone else except for us two."

"That's not true, my eternal rival! There are plenty of single ninja in the village!" Gai proclaimed. "I'll show you!" Konoha's Blue Beast grabbed the Copy ninja by his wrist and dragged the poor man back to the village.

KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI KxI

An hour later, Kakashi and Gai stopped at a bar to get some sake. They had found no less that forty-two couples, and not a single single ninjaunder the age of fifty orolder than twelve. Kakashi didn't care that it was only noon; he needed a drink to make the depression go away.

"We'll find someone after this drink," Gai promised, "or else I'll throw three hundred kunai at practice this afternoon."

"Give up, Gai." Kakashi growled. "Everyone in the village has someone else. We are the only two men that are alone."

Gai refused to give up, though. He was a genius of hard work, a prince of perseverance, a dauntless beacon of determination.

"What about the girl at the ramen stand?" He asked. "Is she going out with anyone?"

"Engaged to Dumpling guy."

"What about that ninja right there?" Gai asked, pointing to a random shinobi he didn't know that was wondering around on the street.

"With that civilian right there." Kakashi answered, pointing to the girl walking up behind him. Sure enough, the two embraced lovingly, never knowing or caring that they were being watched.

Gai looked around on the street in front of the bar, desperate to find some lonely person to console his rival with (he was starting to get a little depressed himself, too).

It was as if, at that moment, a dark cloud moved away and rays of sunshine shone down. Umino Iruka stumbled past the bar, struggling with armfuls of students' papers and teaching supplies.

"Umino Iruka." Gai almost sang as he said the name. Kakashi glanced up from his sake glass with a confused look in his eye.

"Huh?"

"Umino Iruka." Gai repeated, proud of his discovery.

"That chuunin school teacher? He can't be single. He's probably got some sweet civilian girlfriend who makes him dinner and bakes cookies for his class and all that crap." Kakashi guessed, taking another sip of his sake.

"I've never seen or heard mention of a girlfriend, and I have spoken to him a few times. He's the teacher of my beloved students." Gai told his rival.

Kakashi set down his sake and thought to himself. He didn't know much about the chuunin, other than he taught at the academy, Naruto worshiped him, and he was easy to rile up. The sensei had come across to him as the type to have some nice, sweet girlfriend, though.

Kakashi got up from the bar and threw some money down on the table to cover his drink.

"Where are you going?" Gai asked him as he turned to exit.

"I'm going to prove that Umino Iruka isn't single. Then you'll have to admit that I'm right." Kakashi said. He left the bar without a backward glance at his jounin friend.

"But what about the horseshoe competition?" Gai wondered aloud. Well, there went his change to pull ahead in the ongoing contest between himself and his rival. Gai chugged his sake and ordered another bottle.

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Sorry for the shortness, but I have graduation tomorrow, AMA the next day, and then my senior trip to Florida (boo-yah!), so the updates for this fic are going to be few and far between for a while. I'll try to work on this as much as I can in my spare time before I leave on my trip, but I'm not making any promises.